A report released last week by the environmental group Earthworks questions whether the staffing available at DEC will be adequate to handle the increased workload of enforcing the proposed fracking regulations. Indeed, the report questions whether cuts in staff have left DEC unable to competently enforce the current regulations applicable to existing oil and gas wells.
Earthworks' study reported that the number of oil and gas inspections decreased by more than 1,000 per year between 2001 and 2010, while the number of active oil and gas wells increased by approximately 1,000 over the same time period. According to the report, In 2002, DEC inspectors were conducting one inspection per 2.6 active wells. By 2010, they were only able to conduct one inspection per every 4 active wells. In other words, three out of four wells are go without inspection every year. The report also claims inspections are few and far between and assessed penalties are low.
DEC has claimed repeatedly that it will only issue as many fracking permits as it can enforce. If the Eartworks report is correct , DEC will first have to beef up its staff to handle already active oil and gas wells.